In some countries sidewalks remain reserved for pedestrians. E-steps are prohibited. This is the result of an international study by Prof. Mario Alves of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. He presented his exploration at the Walk21 congress in Rotterdam. Cities all over the world are facing a 'tsunami' of 'micromobility': electric scooters, e-steps, self-propelled shelves and more.
Tolerate or take away
Countries deal differently with the approval or prohibition of new forms of travel, often presented as 'sustainable' without evidence. Sometimes they are only allowed on the road or on the cycle path, often they also ride on sidewalks, giving walkers a real unsafe feeling. In the UK and The Netherlands the e-step is prohibited, Alves found out.
Toys for rich boys
Enforcement of rules is a problem in many countries, says the scientist. "Prevent a situation where everyone is fighting for space. That threatens, but can never be the intention, can it?" The new wheels are mainly 'Toys for rich boys'. Often eighty percent of the users are young men on high incomes.
No less driving
In Europe, most riders would have walked or cycled otherwise. In the US, e-step rides replace taxi or public transport. Reliable data on the extent of use is lacking. But in Brussels, a government agency currently estimates the number of e-steps at 4,000. The numbers and negative effects are increasing rapidly, according to Alves. "In a city like Bogota a year ago there was nothing wrong, now there really is a safety and nuisance problem".